You will need to take extra care when using water from dams. It is very difficult to prevent contamination from plants and animals.
- Install water filters at your kitchen tap. Water filters remove a range of contaminants from the water, but you will need to choose the best type for you.
- Maintain and replace your filters, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Neglected filters may release germs and chemicals into the water.
- Untreated dam water should always be boiled before using for drinking, cooking and washing food. This is particularly important for people with lower immune response (very young children, older people, and people with a chronic illness).
To be certain that your water is safe, you may choose to have your water tested. You can seek advice on collection, timing and the number of water samples from your local council. A fee may be charged for this service. 'One off' samples can be misleading.
How can dams get contaminated?
Dams may get contaminated from:
- stock access
- native/feral animals
- stormwater run-off
- pesticides and fertilisers from farm land and forestry operations.
Under certain conditions, dams can be prone to algal blooms which may deposit toxins in the water. These chemicals may cause illness in people and stock after drinking or bathing in the water.
Boiling water does not remove the algal toxins. Activated carbon filters may remove some toxins.
Even if the dam water is used only for bathing and washing, there are still limits for microbiological contamination which should not be exceeded.